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origin. During the violence and disorder occasioned by the political revolutions, the frequent migrations, and the almost uninterrupted hoftilities, which succeeded and increased the calamities of the Trojan war, it was natural for those, who reasoned concerning the affairs of men, to form, according to the original bent of their minds, two opposite theories for the best improvement of human life. Men of a firm texture of soul would prepare for the misery which awaited themi, by strengthening their natural hardiness, and fortifying their natural intrepidity. The contempt of pain, and danger, and death, would be the great principle of their lives, and the perpetual subject of their songs and while they described the inevitable disgrace of weakness and cowardice, they would extol, with the most lively sensibility, the glory of valour, the triumphs of success, and the joys of victory. Such themes might delight the martial muse of Tyrtæus and Callinus, but could offer no charms to the effeminate softness of Mimnermus, or the licentious debauchery of Archilochus. To persons of their character, the calamities of the times, instead of appearing an argument for vir. tue, would prove an incitement to pleasure. The precarious condition of their lives and fortunes, while it depreciated all other objects, would increase the value of present enjoyment. In the agreeable amusements of the fleeting hour, they would seek refuge against the melancholy prospect of futurity. The pleasures of the table, the delights of love, the charm of the elegant arts, and of conversation, would be per. petually studied in their lives, and perpetually recommended in their poetry.'
Many of the observations in this extract are just and happily expreffed. But the “ fearlessness of assertion" (to use an expreflion of Dr Johnson), for which this author is so eminent, often betrays him into errors. Whenever he deviates into general hiftory, he is like a bewildered and benighted traveller, “ Neither the Rünners of the north " says he, nor the Druids of Gaul and Britain, poffeffed morc diftinguished authority than the Rhupsodiss of Greece.” That the Bards and Rhape Todists of Greece were held in honour, and entertained at the "tables of kings and heroes, we have the undoubted evidence of Homer. But an expression of Hefiod's, “ that Bards in his time were as common as potters or joiners,” and the fupplication of Phemius to Ulysses in the eighth book of the Odyssey, shew they poffeffed no “very diftinguished authority." Our author seems to have forgot, or never to have known, that the Druids in Gaul not only presided over all religious inftitutions, but were also the interpreters of the laws, which received execution from the efficacy of their authority. They judged in all caufes, whether civil or criminal ; and their sentence was efteemed to sacred, that whoever refused to give it complete
obedience was excluded from affisting at their religious rites; was held in execration and abhorrence, and denied the privi.
A a 22
leges of society. * We are assured by Dion. Chryfoftom that the Druids exercised supreme authority over the kings themTelves-Κελφοι δε ούς ονομαζετι Δρυίδας, και τέτες σερί Μανικήν δν7ας, και την άλλων σοφίαο, ών άνευ, τους βασιλεύσιν έδες εξήν πράττειν δε βyλεύεσθαι, ώςε το μεν αληθες εκείνες άρχειν, τους δε βασιλέας, αυτών υπηρέτας και διακόνους γίγνεσθαι τής γνώμης, ένθρώποις χρυσεϊς καθημένες, και οικίας μεγάλας όχ&ντας, και σεντίμως ευωχημένες. Helmodus alfo affirms, concerning the Slavis.“ Rex apud eos modice ef æftimationis incomparatione flaminis.”! Did the Bards of Greece pretend to such power or authority? When our author tells us,“ that, amidst the most dreadful calamities which afflict mankind, the bards alone were exempted from the common danger, it is difficult to find out what he means. What he afterwards adds, “ they could behold in fafety the tumult of a battle ; 'they could witness undisturbed the horror of a city taken by ftorm,” &c. &c. is without any authority from Homer, or any other ancient writer. Mr. M Pherson attributes such a privilege to the Celtic bards, but it was a very bold excurfion to Jeap from Mount Parnassus to the hill of Morven.
[ To be continued. )
FOREIGN LITERATURE. Art. XII. Lettre de M. de Peyfonnel, ancien Consul General à Smyrna,
ci-devant Consul de fa Majesté auprès du Khan des Tartares, à M. le Marquis de N-: Contenant quelques Observations relatives aux Memoires, qui ont paru fous le Nom de M. le Baron de Tott. Amiter.,
dam, & se trouve à Paris. 8vo., 1785. Art, XII, Animadversions upon. the Memoirs that have appeared under the Name of the Baron de Tott, in a Letter from M. de Peysonnel, formerly Consul from the French King to the Khan of Tartary, and after.
wards Consul General at Smyrna, to the Marquis of M. is
world of politics, and the republic of letters. In the firft, by the important transactions in which he has been concerned, and the ability and skill with which he conducted himfelf, as Conful and Consul General from the court of France; and in the other, by his celebrated work, entitled Les Numerosit It would have been difficult to find a person better qualified for the task he has undertaken, than M. de Peysonnel. Equal to the Baron de Tott in his personal knowledge of the Turks,
Casar de Bell, Gall. lib. vi. cap. 13. + Lib 2d. Tap. 12.
# See English Review, Vol. III. 'page 458.
their government, laws, customs, manners and character; and his rival, at least, as a writer, he has one advantage over him, that, in our opinion, is by no means a trivial one. Ic has cver been popular to speak degradingly of the Turks, and to consider them as a nation perfectly devoid of learning, taste, and character. The Baron de Tott falls in with the current,' and appears to have been influenced by this prejudice in every page of his Memoirs, and during the three-and-twenty years that he spent in the ftudy of this nation. M. de Peysonnel, too proud to consult popular prejudice, and too honest and faithful, as an historian, to facrifice truth to its fhrine, has combated this prevailing opinion with no small degree of suce, cess, and presented the Turks in a light, novel indeed to our eyes, but with a degree of respect to which they seem to be juitly entitled. In the mean time, he is deftitute of the envy and exacerbation of a rival adversary; and while he animadverts, with freedom, upon the defects and errors of the Baron, it is in the true spirit of modesty and moderation, and not with out ascribing to him his due share of merit.
• 1 began,' says he, to read, or rather to devour the memoirs thç inftant they came to my hands. In my first perusal, eager and rapid, I discovered little but the genius, the sprightliness, the graces, the thousand various talents of the Baron de Tott. Conducted, by him, over a bed of flowers, I trod with a light and nimble foot. My second perusal, flow and cautious, in which I followed the author step by step, discovered to me his errors and defects. Pulchro in opere napos, They are such, however, as I know not how to ascribe to the Baron de Tott. It should seem impoflible, that errors fo glaring and obvious could come from the pen of a man so informed and enlightened upon the subject, who has lived fo long with, and seen so much of the Turks, and who is as familiar with their language as with his own. He must surely have experienced the misfortune, tog common among us, of a surreptitious and corrupt édition.'
To supply these defects, and to rescue the Turks in general, and a few of their emperors in particular, from the odium thrown on them by the Baron, is the profefled design of our author in the little volume before us. He wilhes, however, to be considered not as a critic; he disclaims the appellation, but as an humble commentator, writing his notes in the margin of a book that pleases him, that he loves to read over and over again, and wishes to find still more perfect. How far M. de Peysonnel has succeeded in his design, the reader will be the better able to judge, when we have presented him with a few extracts.
Speaking of the facrifice which the Sultan Mahmoud was neceffitated to make of the lives of his three favourites, the Kislar Aga, and Soliman Aga, an Arminian banker, the Baron de Tott has the following paliage.
• It had been the bufinefs of these men to give variety to the gratifications of the prince. He profited by their initructions, and quitted for a moment the voluptuous pleafures of the harem, in order to prefide at the execution of two of them.
• How orjuft and injurious a reflection,' exclaims M de Peysonnel, upon the memory of the best and wifest emperor that had governed Turkey fince the days of Soliman the magnificent !' Sultan Mahnoud ascended the throne in 1730, and died, regretted by his people, in 1754. He had doubtless shed much blood; but it was the blood of rebels, whole death was indispensable to his own security, and his people's happiness. It is equally true, that he was the spectator of the atonement made by his favourites to the violated laws. But he did it from the motive of rendering their example the more striking, and of giving the more complete satisfaction to his subjects, over whom these monsters had exercised the most cruel tyranny. Mahmoud was mild, affable, hoipitable to foreigriers, and more exempt from the prejudices of his religion, than any prince that had ever fat upon the throne of Turkey. Full of information and of talents, he loved, and he had cultivated, with confiderable success, the liberal and the mechanical arts. I beg leave, in contradiction to this act of inhumanity, which the Baron de Tort has produced against him, to relate a fact truly sub. lime, and which may serve to characterise him as a man and a sovereign. He was crosling the canal, incognito, attended only by Bofo. tangi Bachi
. Zorana, the jew, Bazirghian Bachi de l'odjak, contractor for hoi fe furniture to the corps of Janissaries, was failing in a contrary direction. The Ifraelite was voluptuously reclined upon a fopha of white fatin, at the stern of a magnificent pleasure boat, and reposing upon two cushions, formed of the same fatin, and embroidered with gold. He was smoking a pipe, and had two flaves kneeling before him, whose fole occupation it was continually to supply the vehicle with aloes, as fast as they were exhausted by their indolent and imperious mater. Boftangi, the implacable enemy of Zonana, did not fail to point him out to the sultan, and to endeavour to awaken his indig. nation at so pompous and luxurious a spectacle. . . Thou fool,' re. plied Mahmoud to his officer, does not the splendid state of that jew rudound to my glory? What higher encomium could an historian beftow upon me, than to say, that, under my reign, even the Jews, the scorn and abhorrence of every other nation, were enabled to possess, in perfect security, both extreme opulence, and the liberty of displaying it?' The answer would have done honour to an Alexander, à Cæfar, or a Louis XIV.'
The Baron de Tott attributes the gross ignorance with which he stigmatizes the Turks to the extreme difficulty with which they read their own language, “ made up,” as he says,
wholly of consonants, the signs which are subftituted in the place of vowels being almost certainly omitted.” He adds, in That, by the adoption of the Arabic and Persian language to supply the poverty of their's, and by composing five alphabets, the different characters of which are left to the arbitrary disposal of the writer, the Turks have thrown fresh obstacles in the way of instruction.” M. de Peysonnel refutes there
groundless assertions, and endeavours to rescue the Turks from the ftigma so unjustly thrown upon them.
If the Indignes, who understand the language, have so much dif ficulty to read it, on account of the mnltiplicity of signs, and the suppression of the vowels, how must this difficulty be enhanced to a foreigner, who is défitute of every primitive idiom of the language? And what infinite labour must it not cost him to read and write it with Auency, "and to understand those books which treat in it of the most abftrufe Tubjects? But here the Baron contradiets himself in the same page, where he tells us, that, with the assistance of a Perfian Maître des Langues, who was for ever drunk with opium or brandy, he was soon able to explain himself tolerably, and to dispense with his interpreter.' Does it not follow, from this rapid progress of the Baron, that the language, fript of the original obstacles that beset the study of a 'foreigner, must be, to the native inhabitants, an acquisition easily ob. tained, and that books of the deepest science can present to them few difficulties on that score ?
• The original of the Turkish language is the Tartar, the language of Zagathai, in which he wrote a variety of books, and many of whose manuscripts are still to be met with in the king's library, and perhaps elsewhere. The defect ascribed by the Baron to the Turkish language, is the very circumstance that constitutes its greatest perfection. By the adoption of the Arabic and Persian, it is become one of the most expressive and beautiful languages in the world. Nor is this a fingular improvement. Every copious language has been formed after a fimilar
The Arabic, which is boundless in its extent, is derived from the Hebrew, which, of all l'anguages, is the most barren and confined. The English have availed themselves of all other languages, with the utmost freedom, and by means of it have brought theirs to an high degree of perfection. Nor have the Turks, by this adoption, given to their language an exclufive degree of perplexity and confufion. It may be learned with as much felicity as the German, the English, or any other language equally copious and extensive.
* Nor is it true that the different characters are left to the arbitrary disposal of the writer. Each character is appropriated to a distinct fpecies of composition. The Nefkhi, which is the oniy one that has appeared from the press, to books of science; the Taelic to those of poetry; the Divani to firmauns or government proclamations, and the epiftolary.lile; the Sulus to devices, inscriptions and legends.
We will present our readers with another extract relating to this subject. In the opinion of the Baron de Tott, a double meaning, the tranfpofitions of letters, form the whole extent of the studies, and the literature of the Turks, and every thing, that a corrupt taste can invent to fatigue the mind, contributes to their delight, and excites their admiration. M. de Peyfonnel takes fire at the charge.
• Is it possible the Baron de Tott can be serious ? It is a caracature the most preposterous and ludicrous ! The Turks in general are ingenious and polihed, and distinguithed for their l'esprit. And thall we